The Danger of Standardization

The work of Daniel H Pink is inspiring to me. In his work he describes that education is one of the fastest growing jobs in the world. And with this growth comes the opportunity to change the way educators envision their roles and their classrooms. It’s a great way to decrease educating and start to increase facilitating learning. Guided by findings in educational research and neuroscience, the emphasis on cognitive skills like calculation and memorization is evolving to non-cognitive skills like collaboration and improvisation.


One big topic to tackle is the idea of moving from transactions to transcendence — to making something personal. This has been a recurring theme in education: connecting what’s taught in classrooms to students’ personal lives. But that’s not the way the tide is moving, nowadays. The headwinds in education are very much towards routines, right answers and standardization. The idea that you treat everybody the same way is foolish, but still our education is heavily standardized.

danger of standarisation


The absence of leadership on this issue is the main reason why it is moving this way.
Much of the educational policies seems designed for the convenience of adults rather than the education of students. Why do we have standardized testing? Because it’s unbelievably cheap. If you want to give real evaluations to students, they have to be personalized, tailored to the student. Standardized testing is totally easy, totally cheap, and scales. Convenient for politicians, policy-makers and taxpayers.
The standardized model of education is in deep need of an upgrade. Producing students with skills that won’t serve them well outside the boundaries of school is limited. Students who are driven by external rewards (grades, trophies) will be fare worse than those who are self-directed, motivated by freedom, challenge, and purpose, Pink wrote in his book Drive.
We have a lot of learned behavior of compliance, and hunger for external rewards and no real engagement. We have this belief that people perform better if we hit them with this endless arsenal of carrots and sticks: If-then motivators. To get to that engagement, people have to unlearn these deeply rooted habits. I’m ready to contribute! Are you?

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